We are fast approaching the end of the month of May and, in my country, this usually signals preparation for the start of the new school year. We do not follow the International calendar so our school year is from June to March and so it is also around this time that I prepare materials and the like for my kids. For the past couple of years, it has been just about my son. He is entering Preparatory this year, this is the last year in pre-school. This year, though, my daughter is already starting school so it is, admittedly, a bit overwhelming to think about two kids in school. And they are such different kids as well that it just cannot follow that the school that my son enjoys, my daughter will, no doubt, enjoy as well. This prompted me to do some research about learning styles. I know, this may be late considering my son has been in school for the past three years but I always say that when it has something to do with the kids, it is never too late.
There are apparently three main learning styles to consider when it comes to a child. There is the Visual, the Auditory, or the Kinesthetic or Tactile learning style. Sounds like mouthful? Yes, I know, but it really is not that difficult to understand once you sit down and get to know the styles. So let’s do a run down of the individual styles and state some simple examples to illustrate the styles.
Does it seem like a whole lot to take in? Well, according to what I researched, most kids use a combination of these learning styles although most also choose a favored path when processing information. The good thing about doing this research is that I found or that learning styles are really better seen in the early years of a child’s schooling, in grade school in fact, so this whole exercise is not that late for my first child after all.
Determining your child’s learning style
They first start out by posing a scenario:
Imagine your child making a microwave snack for the first time. Would he:
- Read the instructions in the package first?
- Ask you how to do things?
- Or toss the packet into the microwave and wing it?
The answer to this question will determine, in a very simplistic way, if your child is a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner. Let’s take a look at, again, a very simple chart outlining what these kinds of learner’s really are.
Descriptions of the three learning styles
Learning Style 1: Visual learners
- learn by seeing; for example, by watching others, by reading.
- have a preference for the “look-say” approach to learning to read.
- have creative imaginations; daydream, draw detailed and/or colorful pictures
- remember faces better than names.
- have good handwriting.
- tend to check out a new situation carefully before joining in.
- prefer art to music.
- often see a detail first rather than the whole.
- are often meticulous about their work.
Learning Style 2: Auditory learners
- learn most easily by listening to explanations.
- have a preference for phonics instruction as part of learning to read.
- love to chatter and socialize.
- often talk to themselves while working.
- have strong vocabularies.
- are easily distracted by noise.
- may have a strange sense of fashion, mixing unmatchable colors and patterns.
- prefer music to art.
Learning Style 3: Kinesthetic or tactile learners
- learn best through direct involvement in the action: modeling, building, producing.
- are adept at taking things apart and putting them back together.
- excel at some sports.
- are good dancers.
- fidget and touch things constantly.
- touch you to get your attention.
- respond well to touch.
- are poor spellers.
- have poor handwriting.
- have difficulty with verbal or written direction.
- read with difficulty and often don’t enjoy being read to.
Again apparently, most children do not show a complete preference for one or the other learning style. A lot of kids draw on two or all of the styles. In fact it is said that a lot of the kids who excel in school use a combination of all three styles. I tried to look at my son to see if I could identify his learning style but I am not very confident considering that my son is below grade school years already. At the same time, I am not a child psychologist so I am not too comfortable attaching labels that I am not an expert on. Most psychologists say though that these summaries are a good starting point for parents to use when considering schools for their kids and a good place to detect anything odd that trained professionals can help with.
Now, considering all these, it can be a bit easier at least to look at ways to nurture your child’s learning development and to make him or her more comfortable with learning differently, or approaching things in a different way. This includes choosing a school that is focused on helping nurture the different learning styles in a child.
For me, this is extremely useful information as I look over what kind of elementary school I want to put my child in. I will be sure when I talk to his teacher that is ask how these learning styles are addressed. What are the lessons? How are the lessons taught? How is the curriculum prepared, divided? What kind of media will be used for the different and individual subjects.
For example, will there be:
- slides, films, written work, and demonstrations for the visual learners?
- tapes, verbal instruction, periods of quiet time for the auditory learners.?
- experiments, opportunities to build or to move around the whole classroom and school for the kinesthetic learners?
To be honest, these were already the things I considered when I looked into the many, many preschools for my kids. Other than this, I also considered the teaching styles or methods of each school. Progressive, Multiple Intelligence, Eclectic, Developmentally Appropriate, Traditional, Waldorf, there are just so many of them and that is an entirely new post. So, what is the importance of all this? Understanding your kids learning style can help you choose a school for him or her. You can either choose a school that will complement his way of leaning or you can choose a school that will work to develop other learning styles. You can also use what you have observed to help teach your kids yourself, whether this be taking on your kids education on the whole, or when doing homework with him or her.
Do you think knowing these learning styles helps you?